70's T-Top 101 For Dummies

Derrick111

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Out of the 2 different T-top winds that are common .I do find one sounds thin . & the later ones have a thicker wind which i like ... older is not always better .
I wonder if this is either the change in magnet that I've read happened in the late 70s or possibly your comparing earlier Ts which may have been more likely to have 500K pots vs later Ts which were often paired with 300K pots?
 

Derrick111

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1980 T-Tops are a different animal in that SOME of them (SGs and some 335s) had double thick ceramic magnets and spacers in the bridge, but tonewise they still sound like T-Tops, just beefier. I still have 2 of those sets here and they really do sound amazing but they've been on the shelf for a few years so will probably be going out the door if I ever get around to taking pics and making a listing.
I still would love to see a photo of these double thick ceramic magnets and spacers to see what they is and how they compare to the last T tops and to Shaws.
 

Arf

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HI!

New to the forum and new to Les Paul's!

I'm sure this topic has been covered 10,000 times but I just purchased a 1978 "The Paul" and am looking for a set of original 70's T Tops. Currently has WCR Fillmores in it.

I know there's a few different incarnations Stamped vs sticker etc.. no need to argue which is better, unless you want to lol...

But if you were me, and wanted to put in orig T Tops, what would you be looking for?

I've seen a few on reverb, but really have no idea what I'm looking at. I don't understand the voltage reading stuff, leads etc...

Basically dumb it down for me and tell me what to buy lol

Thanks!
The only one of those I played was when they came out, and had the original Dirty Fingers. I'd go with those.
 

CheopisIV

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I still would love to see a photo of these double thick ceramic magnets and spacers to see what they is and how they compare to the last T tops and to Shaws.
Going to make me dig are you? I thought I still had some of these here but I can't find them. I should have a picture somewhere....

Edit: Here we go. Side Shot. I do have more if desired but this is the gist of the setup. I've seen it on a few 1980 T-Top + Mishmash pickups with T and 'Shaw' style bobbins. As you can see, the Slugs / Screws / Spacers are very meaty.
TTop.jpg
 
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cooljuk

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Going to make me dig are you? I thought I still had some of these here but I can't find them. I should have a picture somewhere....

Edit: Here we go. Side Shot. I do have more if desired but this is the gist of the setup. I've seen it on a few 1980 T-Top + Mishmash pickups with T and 'Shaw' style bobbins. As you can see, the Slugs / Screws / Spacers are very meaty. View attachment 611666
Yep. That's it. Nothing like some long galvanized slugs.

Looks like that one has the shorter PAF-style screws, even though it's a taller ceramic magnet pickup. Just goes to show what I was saying about the mash-up of parts. Those pickups were actually built for bridge positions - I think the first humbuckers Gibson made, specifically designated for bridge / neck (other than the narrow Byrdland spaced PAFs, if you count that). Many times they are zebra and have no solder from covers, as they were shipped uncovered in SGs. ...but not always.

Gibson also made taller covers for these, but didn't always use them, so sometimes you see those tall pickups stuffed into regular covers. You'll know that on Reverb when you see someone selling one and the cover barely fits. It's ceramic.

Here's some of mine:
20140206231552-017d2051-xl.jpg

i.php

20140206231442-826fdce6-xl.jpg


You'll notice there's no solder on the baseplates. ...but this is NOT an indicator of a model, nor are the stamps, bobbins, or anything else. There were no real indicators / models then.
20140206231433-df2d3f46-xl.jpg


20140206231418-a1dac177-xl.jpg


...but really, there should be no question between a ceramic and AlNiCo version by ears alone, even if in the guitar and you can't see the parts.
 

cooljuk

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Out of the 2 different T-top winds that are common .I do find one sounds thin . & the later ones have a thicker wind which i like ... older is not always better .


I find the later (AlNiCo) T-Tops congested and less articulate. We're probably hearing the same thing and just interpreting it differently. Different strokes.

To me, if you want a T-Top, you want a jangly, spanky, sparkly, mid-scooped humbucker that is a bit brighter and thinner. The later warmer / darker ones seem mushy to me.

Plus, with T-Tops, the latter you get the looser the parts are and more problematic they can be. Sometimes you can shake them and a slug or two will slip out of place or you can hear the screws rattling. Usually, you can easily spin the screws with your fingers on the late ones. Like a loose tooth.

I'm sure the wobbly stamped keepers, loose threaded screws, thinner magnets, and nearly falling out slugs of late 70s Gibson humbuckers were a HUGE contributor to the trend into wax potting pickups. I get those all the time here for potting or service because they squeal. It's almost NEVER the coils. ...but potting will fix it (not the solution I use, though, I preserve the coils as unpotted). So, we have this situation where people assumed coils needed to be potted to not squeal because those pickup squealed and potting stopped it. Really, in this case, it's just crappy manufacturing and assembly of out of spec loose parts. The coils are usually fine.
 

Derrick111

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Here we go. Side Shot. I do have more if desired but this is the gist of the setup. I've seen it on a few 1980 T-Top + Mishmash pickups with T and 'Shaw' style bobbins. As you can see, the Slugs / Screws / Spacers are very meaty.
Wow, thank you both for posting... I did not know these existed and now know how to differentiate these from the late Ts and what you typically see as a Shaw-bucker.

I find the later (AlNiCo) T-Tops congested and less articulate...The later warmer / darker ones seem mushy to me.

I get those all the time here for potting or service because they squeal. It's almost NEVER the coils. ...but potting will fix it (not the solution I use, though, I preserve the coils as unpotted).
I always attributed the mushy sound to the 300K pots used instead of 500K in this period. But there WAS a difference in these late Ts it sounds like... You mentioned potting is not the way you deal with squealing. i would love to know how you deal with it instead? I have two vintage guitars that squeal which I have held off potting the pickups in because I heard it changes the character of the pickups.
 

cooljuk

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I always attributed the mushy sound to the 300K pots used instead of 500K in this period. But there WAS a difference in these late Ts it sounds like... You mentioned potting is not the way you deal with squealing. i would love to know how you deal with it instead? I have two vintage guitars that squeal which I have held off potting the pickups in because I heard it changes the character of the pickups.
I'm not talking about the pots or other differences in guitars, I'm talking about the actual pickups. I'm pretty sure my colleague, Copperhead, is, as well. We both build and repair pickups.

As to how I address all the sloppy loose parts and squealing without potting - it's case by case. Some just need a little of this or that. Some need every single screw hole filled, re-drilled, and re-tapped (that's usually the case, unfortunately) and something done to tighten up the slugs in their holes.

Grinding the keeper bars flat serves two purposes in that they sit firmer on the baseplate and they end up a hair thinner so the screw bobbin tightens down on the thinner magnet better. ...but don't go too far or you'll have problems with the slugs not sitting properly or the screw bobbin tilting back away from the slug bobbin.

You can also get crafty with a punch tool to stake the wobbly stamped keeper bars used in this period, so they grip the pole screw threads (or what's left of them) a little better, as that's a problematic area, as well.

If you were hoping for "slip a piece of paper in it" that's not going to cut it. Send it off to a pro if you aren't experienced with this level of detailed work on fragile vintage pickups or at least go into the job knowing your pickup might not survive.
 

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